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The work of Christmas begins

Howard Thurman

Howard Thurman (1899 – April 10, 1981) wrote:

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

Howard Thurman was an influential American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader. He was Dean of Chapel at Howard University and Boston University for more than two decades, wrote 21 books, and in 1944 helped found a multicultural church. He was a mentor of Martin Luther King.

I first knew the images of this poem through Jim Strathdee’s song:

I am the Light of the World
You people come and follow me.
If you follow and love, You’ll learn the mystery
Of what you were meant to do and be.

1. When the song of the angels is stilled.
When the star in the sky is gone.
When the kings and the shepherds have found their way home.
The work of Christmas is begun!

2. To find the lost and lonely one,
To heal that broken soul with love,
To feed the hungry children with warmth and good food,
To feel the earth below the sky above!

3. To free the prisoner from his chains,
To make the powerful care,
To rebuild the nations with strength and goodwill,
To call a man your brother everywhere.

4. To bring hope to every task you do,
To dance at a baby’s new birth,
To make music in an old man’s heart,
And sing to the colours of the earth!

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9 thoughts on “The work of Christmas begins”

    1. That is certainly one way to approach it. And those who do so might attempt to use that as an excuse not to try. But I would disagree that what Jesus was about was asking the impossible. I believe that Jesus was involved with asking and offering folks a different way to live in the context of their world. As relevant today as ever.

    1. That’s great, thanks, Maria. I’ve been collecting apps here – I will need to reorganise these resources to include Android, but you might like to add it as a comment there also. Blessings.

  1. I’ve got to play this for our Children’s service next week and I can’t get a copy of the score looks like I’ll have to learn itby ear from this video

  2. There is also a setting by Margaret Rizza, called ‘Song of the Angels’, there doesn’t seem to be a YouTube available of it though. I am going to use it in my homily in the morning.

  3. Hello,
    I need to ask, do I need permission to use and post “Let the work of Christmas begin” in my Christmas card for 2023? R/

    1. I can’t imagine, Bill, if you aren’t making a profit, and if you credit, that you would need to search out the copyright holder, etc. Do you think? Blessings.

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